Vandalism un-American

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 19:00

Someone in Eagle River vandalized several political signs on Election Day, a cowardly and un-American act if there ever was one. Who committed the vandalism is still unknown, although there are several disturbing facts about the incident that leave us wondering about the campaign of an Anchorage Assembly candidate and her supporters.

First, some background: In the early morning hours of April 2, someone went around and added signs with the words “Vote democratic” to existing signs for assembly candidate Pete Mulcahy. Although the poorly-worded message was ambiguous (“vote democratic” is a redundant phrase, after all), the intent was clear: Someone wanted voters to think Mulcahy was a Democrat.

Mulcahy is not a registered Democrat, nor would he be likely to put something like that on one of his own signs here in Eagle River, one of the most conservative areas of the state.

In the first of several suspicious coincidences, the signs tacked to Mulcahy’s used the same font and print style as “Vote Republican” signs added by his opponent, Amy Demboski, to her own campaign signs. This means the vandal was either the same person who made Demboski’s signs or someone with the ability to print signs identical to hers.

Anchorage’s Nenana Graphic Arts, which is owned by Joe Law, printed both candidates’ original campaign signs, along with the “Vote Republican” additions to Demboski’s signs. But what reason would Mr. Law have to smear the Mulcahy campaign with the additional “Vote democratic” signs? Isn’t he just an impartial sign printer?

Far from it.

In fact, Law has close ties to the Demboski campaign, for which he is listed as a co-treasurer in public filings. Law also served as co-treasurer for two other assembly candidates in the municipal election — Cheryl Frasca and Andy Clary. Coincidentally, Mayor Dan Sullivan personally endorsed those same three candidates. Demboski says Law denied he had anything to do with the vandalism. Calls to Nenana Graphics were not returned.

Demboski says she first became aware of the “Vote democratic” additions to Mulcahy’s signs while driving around Eagle River in the pre-dawn hours of April 2. She may have even taken a picture of them, but wouldn’t answer when asked directly if she photographed a doctored sign and sent the picture to Anchorage radio personality Casey Reynolds. Reynolds, who posted a photo of one of the vandalized signs on his Facebook page, did not answer inquiries from the Star asking where he got it.

Later that same morning, Demboski called another Anchorage radio show and joked about the sign situation, saying she had no idea why Mulcahy would put something so self-defeating on his own signs — while still leaving open the possibility he may have done it himself. After fielding a few softball questions from host Rick Rydell, Demboski used the incident to further her oft-stated claim that she was the only true conservative candidate in the race. Apparently, it never dawned on her that the signs could be the work of vandals.

Moments later, Mulcahy called the show to vehemently deny he put the “Vote democratic” message on his own signs. He later took to Facebook to say they’d been vandalized.

Demboski must have known Mulcahy would never put something like that on his own signs. So why did she call a radio show (and possibly send pictures) in an effort to score last-minute political points from the vandalism? Why did she play dumb when presented with the obvious fact Mulcahy would be nuts to put such a message on his own signs?

She expects the public to believe her campaign had nothing to do with the dirty trick. But if not them, who? Politically-minded teenage hooligans with access to sophisticated sign printing equipment?

Demboski also claims her campaign workers thought the altered signs were an April Fool’s prank. But the “prank” took place on April 2.

Demboski is sticking to the story that she had nothing to do with the sign tampering, and that she has no idea who’s responsible. Maybe that’s true.

Mulcahy has filed a police report in the incident, and the cops may or may not be able to get to the bottom of things. We doubt it. It’s just petty vandalism, after all, and APD has bigger fish to fry. There’s a good bet that if nobody comes forward to admit their part in the incident, we’ll never know who really did it.

That’s too bad. After all, isn’t it a shame to know someone in our community took the time and effort to vandalize a candidate’s signs in order to slant the election? Isn’t it heartbreaking to know we have someone among us willing to cheat, spread lies and willingly pervert our most sacred of democratic institutions?

If Demboski’s story holds up, she should proudly take her seat on the assembly. The votes are all that matter, and the votes say she won fair and square.

But if it turns out her campaign was responsible for the vandalism, Demboski should immediately withdraw her name from the election, resign her presumptive seat on the assembly and apologize to Mr. Mulcahy and this community for the underhanded, unethical and downright childish actions that took place on her watch.

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